Whether your “thing” is skateboarding with your friends on the Spine, doing stand-up comedy, leading student activism or eating cheese, there seems to be a niche for every student at Binghamton University. But Darren Tun, a junior majoring in cinema, noticed that a club encapsulating his love for narrative filmmaking, editing and photography did not exist, leading to the creation of Cinema Society of Binghamton University (CSB) this semester.
According to Tun, who is president and co-founder of the club, CSB is an organization started to bring together a community of filmmakers and creatives from all levels. The organization aims to uplift fellow creatives’ work and develop their skills through visual collaboration and informative workshopping.
While BU has a number of cinema and visual art clubs such as BU Film Salon and Photography Club, Tun observed a lack of community for those who wanted to create content on a regular basis. The cinema department and BU Film Salon revolve around experimental-style film, deviating from Hollywood-style films that aim to tell a straightforward story. BU Film Salon also spends most of its time hosting film screenings, as opposed to having their members create original work. Furthermore, Tun felt there was a lack of guidance and direction in clubs such as BTV Channel 6, and he wanted to make his group accessible to interested students of all backgrounds, regardless of skill level.
“[Our] club wants to make films — not just watch them,” Tun said. “We aim to build community with the collaborative process of creation and show everyone the beauty in filmmaking, especially as a team effort. I thought maybe we could be a little different in that we’re doing filmmaking and involving people in the process. For the traditional Hollywood style of filmmaking, there’s not a lot for that … That’s why I’m trying to fill this niche.”
Tun’s vision for CSB stems from his past experiences involving film, media and animation. He decided by his senior year of high school that he was going to pursue film directing as a career, but he felt that coming to BU posed a challenge to his creative exploration.
“Going to school at [BU] was quite hard because all the film classes are very experimental-based,” he said. “I couldn’t find other students that share that same love of [Hollywood-style] filmmaking with me.”
Despite these challenges, Tun and his roommate continued to create original content in their free time during freshman year, even creating a “fight scene” video with their friends in Mountainview College, which garnered more than 20,000 views online. Realizing how passionate he was about filmmaking, Tun spent much of his sophomore year planning CSB, working to get the idea and timing right. As the fall of his junior year rolled around, however, the club had still not come to fruition.
In October, Tun visited his friend Sanz Haque, a junior majoring in economics, at his workplace. After being pushed by Haque to finally take the leap, Tun reached out to BU group chats to garner support. After acquiring a solid base of interested students, Tun selected an e-board, which now consists of Haque as vice president, Alyssa Lat, a senior majoring in psychology, as fundraising chair and Daniel Garcia Fernandez, a first-year graduate student studying business administration, as graduate adviser.
Lat said she decided to join CSB, despite having little experience in film, editing or photography, because she wanted to support the creative community at BU.
“I always liked seeing other people create and make their ideas real,” she said. “I have always personally liked to uplift others’ ideas … I can’t help but appreciate the energy flowing from someone else’s creative projects.”
The club’s first major event was a “Film Launch Party” held on Oct. 12. Originally, Tun planned to host this event on his own; however, he decided to promote it as a CSB event in hopes of putting the club’s name out there. CSB’s “Film Launch Party” was a space where creatives from both the University and the Binghamton area showcased their work, ranging from film to photography and other visual art.
“I spent my last remaining money in my bank account to buy all the supplies we needed including lights, sticky tacks and extra decor,” he said. “By the end of the week, everything [came] together and it was a huge event for all the creatives to show off their talent … I knew that we stood for something much more and that we could help revive the creative community here in the Binghamton area.”
So far, CSB has mostly hosted events for students like camera workshops and videography lessons. Members with experience provide their own equipment, write scripts and film pieces together to show members the filmmaking process from preproduction through postproduction. Tun said he would eventually like all members of CSB to start collaborating on larger productions to send to film festivals and screen at their events, becoming a central hub for artists on a similar scale to the LUMA Projection Arts Festival.
Garcia Fernandez, Tun and many of the other e-board members provide their personal equipment and cameras to use for CSB workshops and projects. Tun says they do this to bridge the gap for budding filmmakers and artists that do not have these tools or cannot access them through the University because they are not majoring in cinema.
“It’s something that the school would not necessarily offer,” Tun said. “We’re providing that for others to learn.”
Looking ahead, Garcia Fernandez hopes to increase CSB’s presence as a legitimate organization, partnering with both student organizations and the University.
“I’m looking for CSB to be the way that Binghamton Sound, Stage and Lighting is, and for [BU] to back us,” Tun said. “I just want [CSB] to become a household name and a welcoming, open space.”
Tun has found his community, but emphasized being proactive for students struggling to connect with others.
“If [your niche] is not there, just start it,” Tun said. “Join those Facebook groups, create the GroupMe, start it, ask anyone if they’re interested. You might only have [a couple of] people at first, but that’s four or five people in your really niche topic — you guys can even create together. It’s not about the amount of people, it’s about the quality of people within that group.”